Being told not to mention the Jussie Smollett case did not stop funnyman Chris Rock from blasting the embattled “Empire” actor at the NAACP Image Awards on Saturday night.
Smollett had claimed in January that he was attacked by two people who made racial and homophobic slurs and allegedly put a rope around his neck. He was later arrested by the Chicago Police Department for staging the attack, but the criminal charges were dropped by a prosecutor earlier this week.
“They said no Jussie Smollett jokes,” Rock said from the podium. “I know. What a waste of light skin. You know what I could do with that light skin? That curly hair? My career would be out of here. F—ing running Hollywood.”
Rock’s comments were met with laughter from the Dolby Theatre audience in Los Angeles. He continued by asking “what the hell” Smollett was thinking.
“From now on, you’re Jessie from now on,” he cracked. “You don’t even get the ‘U’ no more. That ‘U’ was respect. You don’t get no respect from me.”
Smollett, nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, lost to Jesse Williams of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Smollett did not attend the 50th annual awards.
2019 NAACP Image Awards Show Highlights
Lena Waithe had expressed her support for Smollett on the red carpet, telling Variety that “being queer and black is like having a target on your back every time you walk out the door.”
Anthony Anderson said he was happy that the charges were dropped and had hoped that Smollett would attend the awards.
“I’m happy for him that the system worked for him in his favor because the system isn’t always fair, especially for people of color,” Anderson told Variety.